Literacy Tips

Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of October 14th

posted Oct 14, 2018, 8:15 PM by Courtney Richardson

Choose slightly challenging texts- just enough to spark engagement and a “I can read this!” spirit. 

You may have heard that children should be reading easy books in guided reading, but that defeats the whole purpose of the lesson. 
- Children should read easy books during independent reading, when the teacher isn’t available to scaffold them. 
- During guided reading, students should encounter new vocabulary and some words that are tricky to decode so they can deploy a network of strategic actions to construct meaning. 
- I often tell teachers if the book is too easy and there is nothing to teach, you have just wasted 20 minutes of precious instructional time!

Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of September 30th

posted Sep 30, 2018, 5:38 PM by Courtney Richardson

Weave word study instruction throughout your guided reading lesson. This helps your students develop efficient word solving strategies to construct meaning. 

A short but critical component of the Next Steps Guided Reading framework is word study where students learn about letters, sounds and words. 
- Many districts recommend phonics be taught to the whole-class, but not all children are ready to learn the same thing.
- By including word study in your guided reading lesson, you can provide developmentally-appropriate phonics instruction based on your students’ needs. 
- Additionally, teaching the word study during guided reading gives students opportunity to transfer the phonics skills they have learned into authentic reading and writing. 

Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of September 23rd

posted Sep 23, 2018, 7:18 PM by Courtney Richardson

Include guided writing in your guided reading lessons; reading and writing are mutually beneficial language processes.  

What children learn in reading can help them in writing, and vice versa. However, not all children make this connection naturally. 
- Dr. Diane Deford, a RR trainer, taught me the importance of digging a ditch between the child’s pool of reading knowledge and his or her pool of writing knowledge. 
- A guided reading lesson that includes assisted or guided writing digs that ditch. It provides an opportunity for students to extend their comprehension by writing about the text, and it provides an opportunity for teachers to provide individual, scaffolded instruction to help students become better writers. 

Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of September 16th

posted Sep 17, 2018, 5:11 PM by Courtney Richardson   [ updated Sep 17, 2018, 5:12 PM ]

Getting Started with Guided Reading Lessons Right Away

With the beginning of the school year in mind, I'm sharing my tips for getting Guided Reading lessons going early for the students who need them the most. I hope you find this teaching tip helpful! 
Visit my blog to watch my latest video and leave me a comment to let me know what tips you have for jump-starting these important lessons!
Happy teaching!
Written by: Michèle Dufresne, author Pioneer Valley Educational Press 

Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of September 9th

posted Sep 9, 2018, 6:29 PM by Courtney Richardson

Keep your guided reading lesson moving -- establish a brisk, lively pace that will engage and captivate your students. 

When I work with schools, I often ask teachers to share the most challenging part of their guided reading lessons. A frequent response is time. I recommend a 20-minute lesson, because I’ve found a quick pace keeps both students and teachers engaged. 
Let me share two things to keep a lively pace: 
1. First, use a timer. If you’ve seen me teach a lesson, you know I always use a timer. It keeps me on track and ensures that I cover each component of the lesson. 
2. Second tip, limit teacher talk. To maximize learning time, use very few words and a clear demonstration. The less you talk, the more they listen.  

Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of September 2nd

posted Sep 3, 2018, 7:22 AM by Courtney Richardson

Use Guided Reading to differentiate instruction, meet individual needs and accelerate the pathway to proficient independent reading.

Whole group lessons provide an ideal opportunity to model a strategy. They’re also an efficient way to teach your State Reading Standards. But GR provides an opportunity to provide targeted and scaffolded instruction by placing students in small, temporary, needs-based groups. By using daily observations and formative assessments such as running records, you can target the skills and strategies your students need to learn next so that every child becomes a better reader. 


posted Sep 3, 2018, 7:21 AM by Courtney Richardson   [ updated Sep 3, 2018, 7:23 AM ]

Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of June 10th

posted Jun 10, 2018, 2:43 PM by Courtney Richardson   [ updated Jun 10, 2018, 2:44 PM ]

Tips for Summer Reading Success!

As summer begins, I have been thinking about all the amazing progress my students have made this year. Like many teachers, I worry about them losing ground because they're not reading over summer break.  
In my latest blog post, I share my top tips and accessible resources to help empower our students to embark on another summer of reading. Read the post here here.
Written by: Michele Dufresne, author Pioneer Valley Educational Press

Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of June 3rd

posted Jun 3, 2018, 7:44 PM by Courtney Richardson

The Next Step Framework Fits Perfectly in Dual Language Educational Programs

By Julie A. Taylor, M.Ed. (Bilingual Education and Teaching English as a Second Language), and currently pursuing doctoral degree in Reading, Language, and Literacy)
As more diverse students arrive in our classrooms, efficient and flexible instruction, targeted to meet students’ individual needs is more important than ever.  The Next Step guided reading framework is the perfect balanced literacy model for dual language learners at every grade level.  With the Next Step framework, small-group instruction is systematic, explicit, and differentiated. The lesson components target all of the high priority reading needs for emerging bilinguals and children who are enrolled in dual language programs.
Grades kindergarten through five are the ideal times to address the developmental needs of diverse readers so all students can become proficient, engaged readers.  The Next Step framework includes all of the building blocks of Spanish and English literacy.  Through the dynamic Next Step guided reading lessons, your dual language students increase proficiency in:
alphabet/letter sound knowledge 
auditory and visual processing
oral language development
concepts of print
phonemic awareness and phonics
developing sight word knowledge
strategic decoding skills
building vocabulary and background knowledge
increasing fluency
applying high-yield comprehension strategies
advancing writing skills
Because of the reciprocal relationship among these literacy skills, the effects on reaching achievement are powerful when this multi-component guided reading instruction is provided – and dual language learners can benefit from this instruction as well!  Research has shown that teachers whose reading instruction was based on students’ language and reading skills achieved the highest literacy outcomes for their students (Alberto, Compton, Connor, & O’Connor, 2014).  They determined that whole class instruction is insufficient to teach in ways that students can apply new knowledge in new contexts or use in conversation.  Following the Next Step framework for small group instruction ensures that all students receive individualized, developmentally appropriate, reading and writing instruction. 
If you teach in a dual language program, you can harness the power of guided reading instruction and ensure reading success for your students. There are Spanish resources on Jan’s page, or you can find these resources arranged by guided reading stages on  All of the Next Step resources (lesson plans, abc charts, an alphabet tracing book, and more) – are in Spanish!  
The Next Step framework is a perfect small-group framework to differentiate reading instruction, meet all students’ reading needs, and raise reading achievement. By making these adjustments in your instructional approaches and incorporating guided reading into a balanced literacy model, you can ensure maximum reading success for all students.  
With a master of education degree in Bilingual Education and Teaching English as a Second Language, I am able to provide Next Step professional development for Spanish dual language teachers anywhere in the United States.  You can reach me by email,, or through my website, 

El siguiente marco de paso encaja perfectamente en el lenguaje dual programas educativos
Por Julie A. Taylor, M. Ed. (educación bilingüe y enseñanza de inglés como segunda lengua), y estudiante doctorada en lectura, lengua y alfabetización.
Comó los estudiantes más diversos llegan a nuestras clases nuevas, la instrucción eficiente y flexible, cumplir con las necesidades individuales de los estudiantes es más importante que nunca.  El marco de Next Step de lectura guiada es el modelo de alfabetización equilibrado perfecto para los estudiantes de lenguaje dual en cada nivel de grado.  Con el marco de Next Step, la instrucción para los grupos pequeños es sistemática, explícito, y distinguido por todos los grupos. El objetivo de los componentes de la lección toda la lectura de alta prioridad necesidades de bilingües emergentes y niños que están envueltos en programas de lenguaje dual.
Grados kindergarten a cinco son la tiempos ideales para abordar la desarrollo necesidades de diversos lectores para todos los estudiantes pueden conviértete en lectores competentes y comprometidos.  El marco de Next Step incluye todos los requisitos del alfabetización en Español e inglés.  A través de la dinámica Next Step lecciones de lectura guiada, sus estudiantes de doble idioma aumentar la competencia en:
Alfabeto/conocimiento sano de la letra 
Procesamiento auditivo y visual
Lenguaje oral desarrollo
Conceptos de impresión
El conocimiento del fonema y fonética
Desarrollando conocimiento de la palabra de vista
Habilidades de decodificación estratégica
Edificio vocabulario y conocimiento de fondo
Aumento fluidez
Aplicación de alto rendimiento estrategias de comprensión
Avanzando habilidades de escritura
Debido a la relación recíproca entre estas habilidades de alfabetización, los efectos en alcanzar el logro son poderosos cuando esta instrucción de lectura guiada de varios componentes es proporcionada – İy los estudiantes de lenguaje dual pueden beneficiarse de esta instrucción también!  Las investigaciones han demostrado que los maestros cuya instrucción de lectura se basó en el lenguaje y las habilidades de lectura de los estudiantes lograron los resultados más altos de alfabetización para sus estudiantes (Alberto, Compton, Connor, & O'Connor, 2014).  Determinaron que la instrucción de clase completa no es suficiente para enseñar de manera que los estudiantes puedan aplicar nuevos conocimientos en un nuevo contexto o usarlos en la conversación.  Sigiendo el marco de Next Step para la instrucción del grupo pequeño asegura que todos los estudiantes reciban individualizado, apropiado para el desarrollo, instrucción de lectura y escritura. 
Si enseñas en un programa de lenguaje dual, puede aprovechar la potencia de lectura guiada la instrucción y asegura el éxito de lectura para su estudiantes. Hay recursos españoles en la sitio web de Jan, o puede encontrar estos recursos dispuestos por etapas de lectura guiada en  Todos los materiales para los lecciones el Next Step (planes de lecciones, las cartas ABC, un libro de rastreo del alfabeto, y más – İtodos en Español!  
El marco de Next Step es un marco perfecto por el instrucción de los grupos pequeños para diferenciar la instrucción de lectura, reúna a todos los’ necesidades de lectura, y elevar el logro de lectura. Al hacer estos ajustes en enfoques instruccionales y la incorporación de la lectura guiada en un modelo de alfabetización equilibrada, puede asegurarse máximo éxito de lectura para todos los estudiantes.  
Con una maestría en educación bilingüe y la enseñanza de inglés como segunda lengua, puedo proporcionar el Next Step capacitación profesional para profesores de lenguaje dual en cualquier lugar de Los Estados Unidos.  Puedes contactarse conmigo a, o a través de mi sitio web, 


Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of May 27th

posted May 28, 2018, 6:21 PM by Courtney Richardson

Word Work for Transitional Readers – Writing Big Words

Students reading at text levels M, N and O often have a large bank of sight words and understand basic phonics skills such as the silent e rule and vowel combinations. But they still need explicit teaching in learning how words work. One activity you can use is called Writing Big Words. This engaging short activity teaches students a specific spelling feature and shows them how to make connections to other words that have the same feature. To do the activity, first select a multisyllabic word from the text that has a common spelling feature (e.g. -tion, -ment, pre-, etc.).  Write the word on the easel and underline the feature. Then dictate two or three words that have the same feature and ask students to write the words on a dry erase board. Here are a few examples you might consider. Remember to use your students’ misspellings and miscues to choose features they need to learn. 
 feature examples
 -ture picture, adventure, capture
 dis- discover, disgust, disturb
 -ity activity, simplicity
 tele telephone, telescope, television
 graph graphic, photograph, autograph
 trans transfer, transform, transport
 sub submerge, subject, subtract

Remember this is teaching; it is not a test. Support students who need help.

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